Unfortunately, another one of our Black brothers fell to police brutality within the last couple of weeks. Freddie Gray, a 25 year old African American man, died while in police custody. According to the Medical Examiner, the cause of death was due to "severe spinal injuries and a crush larynx (voice box)".
Over the weekend, protesters in Baltimore took to the street to express grief and sadness for what happened to Gray, and plead for reform of our nations local police departments who uses violence, excessive force, or, in Grays' case, negligence when handling PoCs. Peace quickly turned into riot Monday, as cases of...
Meanwhile in Plattsburgh, I woke up to a ton of tweets, and statuses stating "Pray For Baltimore". As I caught up to date on the protests, violence, and madness that took place overnight, I wrote on Facebook:
"I rather see my brothers and sisters organize, make demands to speak with president Obama, or someone of power to create change than running aimlessly in the streets."
As the day progressed, I saw hundreds of other statuses encouraging the violence, looting, and other misconducts that took place over the course of the riots.
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS GOING ON?!
But back to what I was saying not ALL the protestors were participating in negative protesting tactics.
But its problematic to act like violence is the solution to our problems. Its problematic to act like looting was OKAY. Its problematic to let anger guide our actions. As President Obama said "its counterproductive".
The reason why I added the groupthink as an component to this blog is because a recurring theme I noticed was everyone agreeing on the violence aspect of the protest. Everyone is conditioning themselves to believe that since Black people are angry, and bothered by the death of one of the members of our race, we should be smashing car windows, setting cop cars on fire, throwing garbage cans through store windows, and taking all the inventory these stores own.
No!! No, I don't think that its right for people to be acting like a god damn fool "in the name of justice". No I don't think its okay to be kicking in people windshields and smashing cars that aren't cop cars. No I don't think its okay to walk up to any random person and beat the shit out of them because "you are angry".
STOP SHAMING PEOPLE WHO DON'T TAKE IT TO THE STREET. Being an activist doesn't only consist of marching every time something goes wrong. An activist can be the little boy who gave the officers in riot gears water, an activist could also be someone giving updates on whats happening in Baltimore, an activist could be anybody who is for change, whether they are walking the walk or writing the story. I felt that Baltimore was a pretty unsafe place for me to be protesting, especially after things got out of hand!
We need to start respecting EVERYONES voice or lack thereof. Not everyone will agree with you. Whether its that racist chick in your class who is always saying shit like, "maybe if those people stopped, like, committing crimes, then stuff like this wouldn't happen". (Though I do believe that its okay to check a person when they do make problematic statements like that!!!) Or the African American person who doesn't have an opinion on it because it didn't happen to them, its TOTALLY okay. Silence doesn't make you on the side of the oppressor, it makes you silent and invisible.
WE NEED TO ORGANIZE! Back in the day, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. held community meetings in halls and churches to vocalize their opinions and ask for their community to UNITE and stand up for civil rights. Its bout time we do the same; we need to take a chapter from our past leaders and make an effort to strategize a safe, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely way to go about getting our message, our needs, and wants out to people of power.
Whether its drafting a new constitution for ALL people, not just for citizens, but for cops, politicians, whomever, to follow. Or drafting up a new law that would hold cops accountable, and specify what we feel is excessive force when things like this happen. Or even a more practical way to see what officers are doing while they're in the field, and observe how they are handling civilians, something must be done.
As activist, as people, we need to keep our emotions in check. We can't always be led by passions, and we can't always go an eye for an eye. Mahatma Ghandi once said "an eye for an eye will only make the whole world go blind". This isn't Mesopotamia, because we are met with violence doesn't mean we react with violence. It means we take in the bullshit, and come back stronger, and louder, and let our passions channel through our words and guide our efforts, not radically guide our actions.
Most importantly, as individuals we need to break free from what the masses are agreeing with! We need to be able to think for ourselves, ponder on the actions of others, and question their actions and link it to the larger goal. Is throwing a traffic cone into a police car window really going to help the Gray family get justice? How will my actions hinder this movement?
The focus in the media quickly shifted from the investigation of Gray's death, to the harsh, angered crowds of Baltimore. We can't keep letting our emotions be the only thing the media wants to shed light on. Cause all our efforts, all of Baltimore, Ferguson, and New York Citys' effort will be in vain.